Coronavirus Questions Answered: COVID-19 Spread

“Will the risk of coronavirus rise again when we start attending groups, meetings, performances, and sporting events?" [blvdone / Shutterstock]
“Will the risk of coronavirus rise again when we start attending groups, meetings, performances, and sporting events?" [blvdone / Shutterstock]

Updated on April 1, 2020 at 2pm

What are your questions about the coronavirus?

ideastream is answering as many questions as possible, with help from local experts in a range of fields. You can send us your questions with our online form, through our social media pages and group or call us at 216-916-6476. We'll keep the answers coming on our website and on the air.

Laura from Hudson asked: “Will the risk of coronavirus rise again when we start attending groups, meetings, performances, sports, and other events?”

University Hospitals infectious disease specialist Dr. Keith Armitage said he thinks COVID-19 will be around for a while. The current social distancing measures are a way to slow down the spread.

“For now, there’s such a risk of our region having a spike in coronavirus cases that could really tax the health care system that social distancing is currently more important,” he said.

So yes, if group gatherings return, the risk of infection increases, so it’s going to be a difficult decision about when to ease social distancing measures, he said.

Bella May from Toledo wanted to know how fast the virus spreads.

The short answer is fast.

University Hospitals' Dr. Keith Armitage said when humans have developed natural immunity over time to a certain virus, it can’t spread as quickly through the population, because there just aren’t as many people who are vulnerable.

But that’s not the case for COVID-19.

“This virus is taking advantage of the fact that nobody in the world has immunity,” he said. “So if someone has coronavirus and they’re coughing, everybody they come into contact with is susceptible.”

Armitage said on average, a person with COVID-19 infects four people, and they infect four more people, and that increases exponentially. That’s about twice as contagious as the flu, as Gov. DeWine pointed out during a recent press conference. 

The only way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact with others.

Karen from Lakewood wants to know: “Can the coronavirus be detected via swab test during the earliest days or do symptoms need to be present for a test to have a positive result?”

MetroHealth’s Dr. Brook Watts says symptoms do not have to be present in order to test positive for COVID-19.

“That being said, for the vast majority of people, we are not recommending asymptomatic testing at this time," she said.

She said right now, testing is being prioritized for health care workers, first responders, hospitalized patients and other high risk groups. This is because tests are in limited supply.

 

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